photo of kid feet in sneakers surrounded by books, notebooks, tablet, and smartphone Welcome to the first in YALSA’s new monthly professional learning series. Each month we’ll highlight a topic and give readers the chance to learn about it as well as discuss it with others. Here’s how it works:

  • On the first of each month the YALSAblog will post an overview of the topic of the month. That overview will include links to resources to read, watch, listen to, etc.
  • If you are interested in participating in the learning during the month, comment on the initial blog post to say something like, “yes, I’m in.”
  • Each week the facilitator of the topic – that’s me this month – will check-in with participants with a post that poses questions and helps to focus conversation on the topic.
  • Participants can converse with others about the topic by commenting on those posts.

We hope this is a low-stress way to learn something new or expand your knowledge on a topic. There is no pressure, just a desire to learn and discuss your learning.

Onto this month’s theme – Thinking Differently

In 2013 YALSA published the Future of Library Services For and With Teens: A Call to Action. That report, based on a year of research, prodded library staff working with teens to think differently about the what, why, and how of their services. But, thinking differently doesn’t come simply by saying to yourself, “I’m going to do this.” It requires research, learning, critical thinking, conversation with colleagues, and at least sometimes working through a process that can lead to change.

The resources below should help you to begin thinking differently about your services for and with teens. It’s up to you what you read and/or watch. Pick and choose from the selections as a way to get started and to focus on what you think is most useful. You may make your way through them all, you may not. I’ve included some ideas of what to consider while you read or view so as to help provide context and focus.

  • The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action – YALSA’s “Futures Report” looks at the world of libraries and teens in the early 21st century and provides recommendations of how to best support teen needs in a world that requires re-thinking college and career readiness, community engagement, literacy, diversity, and more. As you read through the report, consider what ideas spark your interest and say to you – “We need to think differently about how we do X in my library as a result of this.”
  • What is Disruptive Innovation – The authors of this Harvard Business Review article talk about how different strategies need to be used for different types of innovation and change. While this article doesn’t talk about libraries at all, do you see yourself or your library in what’s discussed and how can you use the ideas in the article to drive thinking differently forward in your institution?
  • Apple/Steve Jobs of course popularized the idea of “think different” and this Apple ad from 1997 highlights many people who took a chance, thought differently and made a difference in the world. As you watch the ad, think about the people highlighted and what they needed to do to think differently. What gets in your way in thinking differently in your institution? Are there ways to remove any of those barriers?
  • Six Steps for Successfully Bringing Change to Your Company – this clear article gives you some background on what you might do in order to think differently and move forward with some of the ideas in the YALSA “Futures Report.” Which ideas do you think will work in your institution? What might you try first?
  • 30 Days of Innovation– In 2012 the YALSAblog sponsored a series of posts on innovation. Read through the different topics and select a couple that interest you. In the coming weeks we’ll talk about how what you read in those posts helps you to think differently about the best way to serve teens in your community.

Next week I’ll post some follow-up ideas and questions for everyone to discuss. This week, if you plan on being a part of the March conversation on thinking differently, post your interest in the comments and feel free to mention what you hope to get out of the month’s learning.

And, if you have questions along the way feel free to contact me – or @lbraun2000

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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